Terra Environment Dictionary — P

Terra Environment Dictionary is a resource of words, terms and phrases related to environmentalism, as defined by society.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #

palm oil

An edible vegetable oil derived from the fruit of oil palm trees, primarily the African oil palm Elaeis guineensis. Palm oil is an extremely versatile oil and can be found in 50 percent of all packaged products in supermarkets, from pizza and chocolate to shampoo and lipstick. Indonesia and Malaysia make up over 85 percent of global supply, often grown as monoculture plantations after deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, largely in Borneo.

Paris Agreement

An international accord within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was agreed by 196 countries—every nation on Earth except Syria, which has since also signed—in 2015 at COP21 in Paris, to “combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future”.
The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century under 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C. Unlike its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, which established legally binding commitments from developed nations, the Paris Agreement expects commitment from all nations, without mandating concrete emissions reduction targets, plans, or penalties if they fail to do so.
United States President Donald Trump has announced his decision to withdraw the United States, the world’s second largest carbon emitter, from the agreement in November 2020, shortly before the end of his presidential term. Doing so would make the United States the only nation in the world to reject the Agreement.


Also spelt as pescetarian, a diet, or a person committed to such a diet, that is vegetarian but also includes seafood. As with vegetarians, such a diet may or may not include eggs and dairy products.
A pescatarian diet is usually motivated by environmental and health concerns: livestock occupies 80 percent of all agricultural land and contributes 13 percent of all human-induced carbon emissions, while fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (especially EPA and DHA), which, although present, are more difficult to obtain in a pure plant-based diet. Seafood is also a good source of vitamin B12, the only nutrient with no known plant sources.


Microscopic, plant-like aquatic organisms that contain chlorophyll and are capable of photosynthesis. They are absolutely critical to life on Earth, as they form the base of the aquatic food web, and are effective carbon sinks, pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and emitting oxygen in its place. Much overlooked compared to trees, phytoplankton are responsible for 50 percent of all photosynthesis on the planet.


1. A four-legged ungulate (or hoofed mammal) of the genus Sus, most commonly the Sus scrofa domesticus (domestic pig).
2. Said animal domesticated and raised as livestock, to produce pork for human consumption.
Unlike how they’re frequently portrayed, pigs are highly intelligent and exhibit social behaviour. They are also biologically similar to humans, which have resulted in them being frequently used for human medical research.
3. A dirty, gluttonous or repulsive person.

plant-based diet

A diet that consists mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants, with few to no animal products. Such a diet is often motivated by environmental (extensive carbon emissions and land use by animal agriculture), ethical (animal welfare and rights issues), religious or health concerns. Plant-based diets include vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and flexitarian.
Contrary to what some think, humans do not need to eat meat and can indeed fully sustain themselves with a plant-based diet, which, in fact, is more healthy.

Read: What’s a plant-based diet? Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian & flexitarian


1. A group of mostly human-made (synthetic) materials, composed of polymers of organic compounds typically derived from petroleum oil.
Plastics, especially synthetic ones, are generally very durable and non-biodegradable, with organisms unable to break them down.
Due to the sheer volume of which they are produced, and the disregard humans have to discarding them, plastic pollution has created all sorts of environmental problems, from marine animals getting caught in them (getting injured or drowning as a result) to the increase in microplastics within the food web. Incineration of plastics as a method of waste management also contribute to air pollution and carbon emissions.
2. Artificial, synthetic or insincere:
The declarations by the plastic manufacturing companies to be carbon-neutral is a plastic attempt to present a green image.
antonym: natural; organic
3. Lacking in depth, individuality, or permanence.
We live in a plastic society largely interested in material acquisition, possession and consumption.


The introduction of contaminants, harmful chemicals or waste products into natural environments, causing adverse change.

There are five major types of pollution:

    1. Air pollution: the burning of fossil fuels is a common source, contributing to the formation of smog and other dangerous particulates and gases. Air pollution causes respiratory problems in humans and other animals, and contributes to acid rain.
    2. Water pollution: sources include agricultural (fertiliser, pesticides), industrial (chemicals, metals like lead and mercury) and sewage (urban waste) runoff, and oil leaks and spills. Water pollution causes digestive problems, algal blooms (explosive growth of algae, blocking light from other aquatic plants) and alterations to the temperatures and oxygen levels that adversely affect aquatic life.
    3. Soil pollution: sources include agricultural, industrial and urban waste. Soil pollution causes long-term land degradation and desertification, rendering unable to support plant growth or even human use, and health problems for those who come into contact with the contaminated soil.
    4. Light pollution: sources include unnaturally large amounts of light produced by urban areas. Light pollution causes disruptions to the day-and-night cycles of animals, especially nocturnal ones,  misdirection by animals who rely on moonlight or starlight to navigate, and impediments to the migration patterns of birds.
    5. Noise pollution: sources include loud human-induced noises such as planes flying, construction works, ships, and rigging and drilling. Noise pollution causes disruptions to the echolocation of marine mammals (which they use for navigation and communication), and fear, panic and anxiety in animals.


The meat of pigs, intended for human consumption.


see: chicken


see: shrimp

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #